Compliance and Ethics in Review: February 22, 2019

The Latest and Greatest Industry News

Convercent launches in Microsoft Azure, hefty fines for UBS, the realities of whistleblower retaliation, and more.

Join the Convercent team for a weekly review of the top stories and most newsworthy events in the ethics and compliance industry. The focus is global, but you might be surprised by how relevant these stories are, both across borders and businesses.

Convercent Launches on Microsoft Azure to Empower Customers to Securely Help Solve Ethical, Regulatory and Compliance Challenges

We’re thrilled to announce some exciting news from Convercent — we’ve officially launched on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform! Azure offers a constantly evolving suite of cloud services to help organizations meet their toughest business challenges. The Azure Active Directory now supports rich, enterprise-class single sign-on with Convercent right out of the box. Users simply sign in using their organizational account credentials.

“Powered by Microsoft Azure, we are able to securely tie business performance to ethics for our customers, encouraging ethical actions and behaviors across today’s business world.” — Philip Winterburn, Chief Product Officer of Convercent

French Court Fines UBS $4.2 Billion for Helping Clients Evade Taxes

UBS, a Swiss multinational investment bank and financial services company, is under fire by French authorities for extravagant spending designed to encourage wealthy French clients to open Swiss bank accounts. French law prohibits foreign bankers from soliciting clients on French soil, but these events allowed Swiss bankers to meet informally and skirt regulations.

According to prosecutors, UBS was also engaging in a long-term scheme that allowed French clients to hide massive amounts of money from authorities. Now, French judges have ordered the bank to pay the largest penalty in the country’s history — a record 3.7 billion euro fine, about $4.2 billion.

Vast Majority of Employees Say There’s an Urgent Need for Moral Leadership in Business Today – But It’s All Too Rare, New Report Says

According to a new report released by LRN Corporation, 87% of U.S. employees say today’s businesses urgently need moral leadership. LRN surveyed 1,100 employees, managers and top executives at companies with at least 1,000 people in 17 industries. Respondents voiced their desire for managers and executives to lead with the company’s deeper purpose in mind.

Essentially, employees also want leaders who will, “inspire and elevate people, uphold moral values, and actively engage in questions of right and wrong.”

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is something we’re extremely passionate about here at Convercent. If you’re unsure about taking a moral stand in a business setting, consider reading this interesting perspective from our CEO, Patrick Quinlan: Corporate Activism: Three Reasons Staying Silent Is The Bigger Risk. And if you’d like to see an example of CSR in action, this article is a must-read: Soul-Searching After Parkland, Dick’s CEO Embraces Tougher Stance On Guns.

USA Gymnastics hires NBA exec Li Li Leung as new CEO

USA Gymnastics has new hope in Li Li Leung, who is now the president and CEO of the crisis-riddled entity.

As a former college gymnast herself, Leung hopes to help the sport find a new path forward. However, her job won’t be easy. The gymnastics governing body filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year and is attempting to reach settlements in the dozens of sexual abuse lawsuits stemming from Larry Nassar’s abuse. The organization is also facing potential decertification by the United States Olympic Committee.

Facebook is a law-breaking “digital gangster,” UK government report says

“Companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like ‘digital gangsters’ in the online world, considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law.”

That’s an excerpt from a recent report out of the UK, where lawmakers slammed the company’s misuse of personal data, willful violation of laws, and complicity in spreading Russian misinformation during elections. Some members of the House of Commons committee that oversees media policy have even accused Facebook of not cooperating fully with the investigation.

SEC files insider trading lawsuit against former Apple lawyer

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a former Apple executive with insider trading. According to the SEC, Gene Levoff, a former senior director of corporate law and corporate secretary at Apple, “traded on material nonpublic information about Apple’s earnings three times during 2015 and 2016.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has also announced its own charges and will be charging Levoff with one count of securities fraud. His initial hearing took place on February 20, and he was released under a $500,000 bond.

Fraud, bribery charges against former SNC-Lavalin executive Stephane Roy thrown out

Due to unreasonable delays in the case, a Canadian judge has dismissed fraud and bribery charges against Stephane Roy, a former SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. vice-president.

This is the second time in as many weeks that a criminal case against one of SNC-Lavalin’s former executives has stalled. Roy was charged with fraud in 2014 over $5,000 and bribing a foreign public official in relation to the company’s business with Moammar Gadhafi’s dictatorial regime in Libya.

She Spoke Up About Sexual Harassment At Ernst & Young And Got Caught In A Web Of Retaliation

Retaliation is a very real threat for whistleblowers, as Karen Ward’s experience at Ernst & Young clearly demonstrates. This article details the various types of retaliation and harassment she experienced after reporting sexual harassed by a coworker. He was eventually fired, but things at E&Y never improved for Karen.

This story also sheds light on the limits of the #MeToo movement. Firing or forcing out sexual harassers often isn’t enough, especially when it doesn’t lead to a change in overall company culture. Luckily, some countries are making moves to better protect whistleblowers from retaliation:


If you’d like to do more to improve company culture in your own organization, fostering a Speak Up culture is a great first step, and it all begins with your Helpline.